The executor of your Will handles your affairs after your death. Choosing your executor requires careful thought as it is vital that the role is performed correctly.
The executor or executors of your Will are legally responsible for obtaining probate and administering your estate after you die. Their exact duties will depend on your circumstances but can include:
- Identifying your property
- Valuing your estate
- Paying any debts you owe
- Distributing your assets in accordance with your Will
Your executor can be a beneficiary of your Will, so long as they were not also a witness to it.
The executor’s role can be demanding so you should think carefully about who might be suited to it. The person should be organised, efficient and, most importantly, trustworthy. Though it is not a necessity, if they also have some legal or financial knowledge they may feel better equipped for the task.
Many people name their partner or a close family member as their executor. However, those close to you will be grieving and may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility. Instructing a professional, such as a lawyer or accountant, to act as your executor can help to ease your family’s burden.
A professional executor can be especially helpful if your estate is complex, for instance if it includes overseas property or there are significant inheritance tax liabilities arising. Since they are experienced in this type of work, a professional executor will usually be able to go through the process much more quickly than a personal executor, though they will charge a fee.
We recommend having both a personal and professional executor. This allows your family member to share the work with an expert but ensures you have someone you know and trust in place to communicate with your loved ones and keep an eye on proceedings.
You can choose up to four executors. However, they will have to act jointly, so bear in mind that a greater number of executors may find it harder to make mutual decisions.
Two executors is often a sensible choice. They will be able to share the work, consult with each other and you will still have an executor in place should one of them predecease you.
If you do not name an executor in your Will, or if none of your named executors are willing or able to fulfil the role, then another person will need to apply for permission to administer the estate. There are strict rules about who can take on the task, so it is best to ensure your Will covers all eventualities.
Solomons Solicitors is here to help you to make important decisions about your Will, including who you want to name as your executor. Our skilful team can offer extensive support with every step of your estate planning process.